Building Learning Power is about helping young people become better learners, not just in school but throughout life. That means creating schools and classrooms that know what it takes to be a powerful learner, genuinely value learning in students, and are committed to cultivating the capacities and dispositions that go to make up learning power.
Building Learning Power puts at the heart of education the development of psychological characteristics that are judged to be of the highest value in young people growing up in a turbulent and increasingly complex world. There are two main parts to the approach:
A: a model of a learner and learning, in terms of a set of characteristics that work together to make a person a highly capable learner; we use ‘learning power’ to describe the effect. [Supple Learning Mind]
B: a view of the kind of pedagogy that will nurture and strengthen the learning characteristics in young people. [Teachers’ Palette]
These are bound together by the fundamental idea that ‘learning is a learnable craft’, and by explicit, detailed discussion of how learning works, supported by a rich repertoire of words and action.
The Supple Learning Mind framework of high value learning characteristics, originally conceived and researched by Professors Patricia Broadfoot and Guy Claxton, reveals the power to learn as a complex process that isn’t just about thinking and having a good memory; it includes how we feel, how we think, how we learn with and from others and how we manage the process of learning. It gives the beginnings of a learning language that helps teachers think about how learning behaviours enable students to grow as learners and tackle the curriculum more profitably.
What’s the Teachers’ Palette?
The Teachers’ Palette provides an overview of aspects of a learning friendly culture that combine to create the seedbed for building powerful learners. It includes the types of teacher action that create the conditions necessary for such learning to become habituated – how they relate to students, the language they use, the types of tasks they design, and the things that they truly value.
What effect does the approach have on students?
Schools that are able to combine a demanding content curriculum with a focused approach to building students’ learning characteristics can expect learners who are:
think that this list should be littered with Successful Futures, core purposes words. Steve to do please
- Committed to learning for life, able to learn, un-learn and re-learn and so thrive in uncertain times
- Emotionally engaged and willing to learn with enthusiasm and commitment
- Cognitively skilled, curious, logical and creative thinkers able to build a web of understanding for themselves
- Socially adept, able to balance sociability and self-reliance
- Strategically aware, interested in and able to manage their own learning
- Independent, self-confident, self-aware, reflective and self-regulating
- Ready, willing, and able to fulfil their potential
- Ready to play a full role in the learning communities of today and tomorrow.
The Supple Learning Mind framework of high value learning behaviours.
A rich framework for learning
The Supple Learning Mind framework was originally conceived and researched by Professor Guy Claxton. It captures the key psychological characteristics that are judged to be of the highest value in helping students to learn and thrive in a complex world. The framework embraces each of the domains of learning and these are shown in its four parts:
- The Emotional domain of learning (sometimes described as Resilience)
- The Cognitive domain of learning (sometimes described as Resourcefulness)
- The Social domain of learning (sometimes described as Reciprocity)
- The Strategic domain of learning (sometimes described as Reflectiveness)
This learning framework shows that learning isn’t just about having a good memory; it includes how we feel, how we think, how we learn with others and how we manage the process of learning. It shows that learning is a complex process. Furthermore it provides a language that helps teachers to think about how they cultivate each of the learning behaviours and helps students to gain a better personalised understanding of how they learn content.
Each domain clusters together the high value learning behaviours that best make that domain work well. For example the social domain is made up of the learning behaviours of interdependence, collaboration, listening and empathy and imitation.
The vocabulary of the Supple Mind creates a language of learning
Having a language that captures the richness of learning can be used to understand and discuss the learning process, helping teachers and students to uncover learning as a visible process that can improve.
The learning language offers teachers and students alike a rich vocabulary for thinking and talking about what learners actually do, and this in itself enables them to expand their capacity and appetite for learning.
The language has many uses. It helps:
- teachers to think about how they might talk in a way that helps to cultivate each of the learning behaviours.
- students to notice and recognise learning behaviours they were unaware of.
- students to gain a better personalised understanding of content because they are consciously engaging the behaviours.
- to know which learning habits and attitudes are being exercised by the way subjects are being presented, taught and assessed.
- to understand concepts such as ‘reasoning’, ‘collaborating’, or ‘managing distractions’, and to have worked on getting better at using them purposefully and routinely.
- to name such things explicitly so that students (and their parents) know what it is teachers are noticing and valuing.
- teachers to become aware of which learning behaviours they routinely require students to use in lessons — and then to think more carefully about whether there might be others they might profitably call on instead.
- teachers to design activities that stretch and strengthen learning behaviours so that they become student’s learning habits. Teachers begin to think, ‘How is learning happening; What habits of mind am I cultivating in students by the way we I’m designing and delivering the curriculum’; Which learning behaviours need to be used more often so that they become habits?
So as we can see it’s not just the words themselves that are powerful but the variety of functions they have in making learning behaviours visible, learnable and habitual. The learning behaviours themselves become even more useful when brought to life through everyday phrases that promote, encourage and strengthen them.